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Ever more vital to feed ourselves

We have a wide variety of businesses in our Chamber of Commerce, and being a rural area, that includes the farming community, which is of huge significance, not just to the local economy, but to the country as a whole.

The horrors in Ukraine have once again highlighted the importance of being able to produce enough food to ensure we are insulated against the impact of unexpected international events and farmers are pressing Government strongly to take steps which will help them deliver.

NFU President, Minette Batters, has said the country has been far too complacent about food production and says there is a real risk that without care and attention, Britain’s ability to feed itself could slowly erode.

Locally, members have highlighted three issues which are a cause for concern. One relates to the very high standards that are expected of our farmers but which don’t apply to producers in other countries. They are not suggesting our quality should be reduced but they do think it is unfair that things like imported meat have not been reared according to the same rules that apply in Britain. Apart from anything else, the level of bureaucracy is a problem, particularly for small operators.

There’s also concern that Government sometimes seems to view farmers as no more than countryside caretakers, encouraging them to plant trees to help combat climate change and keep things tidy so that city dwellers have somewhere nice to walk their dogs at the weekend. They accept that tree planting and good husbandry are important for the environment, but they point out you can’t eat trees.

And thirdly there is the ferocious increase in prices which will hit the sector, with farmers facing big rises in the cost of fuel and fertiliser at the same time as a coping with a shortage of labour. There are widespread calls for the Government to step in and provide support which would do something to help.

Nationally, the Farmers Union has welcomed the Government introducing a clear policy on energy security to keep the power on. But they are making the case for something similar when it comes to food security to ensure our farmers have the support they need to ensure we can be certain that we have what we need to eat.

If you’d like to join us in Chew Valley Chamber of Commerce please email or have a look at our website –


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